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What Car? says

1 out of 5 stars

For Looks good; rides and handles reasonably well

Against Build quality, performance, safety and refinement lag well behind rivals'

Verdict Handles well, but too many faults in other areas to be recommended

Go for… 1.6 GSX

Avoid… 1.3 GLS

Proton GEN-2 Hatchback
  • 1. The 110bhp 1.6 is the best engine as it provides reasonable response right through the rev range
  • 2. Many of the controls have an insubstantial, flimsy feel to them and may not go the distance
  • 3. The driver’s seat and steering column are height-adjustable, but it’s still hard to find a good driving position
  • 4. Electrical components such as the air-con and window motors need checking
  • 5. Check automatic transmissions, looking out for a jerky or reluctant gearchange
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Proton GEN-2 Hatchback full review with expert trade views

The Gen-2 is a five-door hatchback designed to compete in the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf class. And, to its credit, it looks smart and handles quite well. Proton owns Lotus and got the sports car company to develop a sharp, yet subtle-handling chassis for the Gen-2.

The trouble is, Proton could do with help in a lot of other areas, too. Engine noise plagues the Gen-2’s cabin, and it doesn’t seem to matter how gently you apply the throttle. Road and wind noise are also only too obvious.

Inside, although both the driver’s seat and the steering column are height-adjustable, it’s still hard to find a good driving position. There’s reasonable room up front, but space is poor in the back.

The Gen-2 gets a good-sized boot, but doesn't have a glovebox. And, while the cabin looks smart enough, the build quality and levels of safety equipment are poor.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Entry model has good spec, but only one engine

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

There's a choice of two engines and two trim levels, but we don’t rate the 1.3-litre petrol unit much. It has 74bhp and 80lb ft of pulling power, which is okay when you're driving it on your own, but not great with a full load of passengers on board.

The 1.3-litre car is available in basic GLS trim only, but that comes with more equipment than you might think. Air-con, remote central locking, alloy wheels and a CD player are all standard fit, as are twin airbags and anti-lock brakes. On top of that, the 1.6 GSX adds side airbags.

Although it could hardly be described as rapid, we recommend the 110bhp 1.6. It provides reasonable response right through the rev range. Along with enhanced safety and climate control, rear electric windows are also fitted to GSX cars, plus there is a choice of manual or automatic gearboxes.

Trade view

John Owen

The Poundstretcher of small family cars. Don't be fooled by the okay looks

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

When it was new, the Gen-2 could be bought for very little money and in the time it has taken to reach the used market it has got an awful lot cheaper - chronic depreciation means low prices.

Servicing costs are not particularly cheap, though. This is due in part to the Gen-2’s relatively short maintenance intervals. It needs a major service every year, or 9000 miles, whichever comes first, whereas rivals like the Chevrolet Lacetti can run to 10,000 miles and the Ford Focus 12,500. So, over three years, the Gen-2 will work out more expensive to service than the Ford or the Chevrolet.

The Proton’s insurance costs aren’t that low for the class, either, with group 6 for the 1.3 and group 7 for the 1.6. Fuel economy, at 40.4mpg for the 1.3 and 39.3mpg for the 1.6 is reasonable, though.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Entry model has good spec, but only one engine

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

Arguably the best thing to look out for is someone selling a higher mileage, yet infinitely better Ford Focus. However, if you do find a privately sold Gen-2 in good condition at a very low price, then it's worth giving it a thorough check over.

Pay particular attention to the state of the cabin. Build quality was disappointing on these cars from day one and many of the controls have an insubstantial, flimsy feel to them and may not go the distance. Electrical components such as air-con and window motors also need checking.

Check the transmission, looking out for a jerky or reluctant gearchange with the automatic gearbox. And, ensure the manual five-speed unit allows you to engage all gears smoothly and that there’s no evidence of the clutch slipping.

Also check on the Vehicle and Operator Safety website at www.vosa.gov.uk as the Gen-2 was recalled to have a battery harness problem rectified. If the car you're looking at was involved, check it had the work done.

Trade view

John Owen

The Poundstretcher of small family cars. Don't be fooled by the okay looks

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford
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